Y’all! I am insanely impressed with Apollycon and this was my first year going! I was so nervous to be meeting some of my favorite people on this planet in a new city and with such a large crowd but the staff made it so easy!
Our goal was clear and ready when me and my bestie (BookNerd1107) headed out on Thursday. Y’all I did NOT think I was going to be as excited as I was to be in my nation’s capital but boy… I saw the Pentagon and my mind couldn’t fathom seeing something like that. Now I’m a homebody (ah duh….I READ…A LOT) and having a travel bug is something I’ve wished for but never gotten (#anxietymuch) but having someone explain history and stories of battles that went on when you’re seeing a new city and historical buildings is incredibly humbling.
But on to what you really came here for…the swag, the authors, and the Q&A with Kristen Ashley!
Sponsored by the amazing Tijan, the yellow and grey bags we got not only sported our badge level (Apollyon crew where you at?!) but the donations from publishers was astonishing! With books, and special edition ARC, journals, buttons, bookmarks, and a cute purple beanie I was awed at how MUCH each bag held. Also hello stylish travel bag going forward. Wear that bookgeek merch with pride!
Also included was the queen of Apollycon herself, Jennifer L Armentrout’s latest title The Prophecy with a signed poster for the main character and our model of honor, Mr. Drew Leighty (#swoon).
Also does it make me geeky to love my badge/lanyard and button to an extreme extent? Cause I do! The cute button from LapelYeah is seriously one of my favorite swag items I got the whole time.
Not only did we got the main swag bag, there was a sweet and simple one for the MOVIE PREMIERE (Which I can’t believe existed!) and from the 1001 Dark Nights Sparkler.
Now to those that have never been to a 1001 Dark Nights Sparkler, I must warn you, it is MADNESS! With a handful of their authors waiting at tables, you are handed a card. The goal? Ask each author your question and record the answers. Fully correct cards result in the chance to win a gift card! Not even with the chance to win a gift card, this event was chaotically fun. The mad-dash, shouting of questions, and laughter at outlandish responses put our seemingly idols down to our level of ridiculousness. My questions: Wonder Woman or Catwoman? tough choice, I know, but there were…worse? ones out there. Some poor girl had to ask “hard or soft?”…bless her. My personal fave (and I’m kicking myself for not remembering who answered!) was that someone answered that they wanted Gal Gadot AS Catwoman…..MREOWER! Love it!
Once again our model of honor, Drew, took the opportunity to reveal his horror fan-made movie of Never Hike Alone, a dedication to the Friday the 13th series, to a giggly and hilariously loud crowd of ROMANCE fans on Friday night. Now I, thankfully, am a horror fan and the movie was actually really good. With a small cast, simple plot, and well shot footage, the homage to Jason Voorhees was filled with the right level of jump scares and classic horror-humor (i.e. you’re an idiot…LEAVE THE BACKPACK KYLE!). With an interesting Q&A after the movie about his process and some fun facts about the movie I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this off-topic bonus content.
KRISTEN ASHLEY – The queen of romance in my heart! Ya’ll I originally met her during the 1001 Dark Nights Sparkler (and proceeded to hold back tears witnessing her beauty). Kristen is the living embodiment of loving life, glamorous living, and all around rock chick attitude! With a kick-ass wrap dress and killer cute black pumps, KA graced the floor with her smile and general happiness to be around her fans. I managed to get my Unfinished Hero, Deacon, and our lovely Ollie from the Honey Series signed. So glad my bestie steered me right to her when we walked in cause I was near the front of the line! Can’t wait for the Rock Chick Rendezvous in Cleveland later this year!
A.L. JACKSON – If you could find the sweetest and most adorable author in the group, Amy would be my first choice! I’m not sure how someone so bright and bubbly can write such deep and heartfelt stories!! I managed to get a few backlist items from her catalog and I can’t wait to add more of her to my reading list. I may be a new fan to Jackson but trust me there is love there!
LAURA KAYE – My gosh..If I could pick one author who I really wanted to pick their brains, it would be Laura. She’s so engaging and makes it a point to let you know she’s listening to you and hears what you say. I love any author who takes the chance to write about characters with disabilities or difficulties that most authors may shy away from. While I didn’t get a chance to thank her for that in person, I KNOW she know show much her fans lover her.
P.S. She did the cutest thing when I walked up offering all of her swag and asking if there where any new titles I needed or missing blacklist books I could buy. I don’t know why that stood out to me but it was like a little shop keeper was talking to me and it was so cute!
CORINNE MICHAELS – So my dumb butt was so out of sorts that I forgot to ask Corinne for a photo (UGH!) but bonus is I finally got a copy of One Last Time, a 5 star read y’all! Corinne was the smartest author of the bunch as she had a cute table to stand at versus get up and down and she had some of the coolest swag and bookmarks that OF COURSE…AGAIN my dumb butt didn’t grab many of. But at least Corinne is sweet and charming and made it totally worth it!
JAY CROWNOVER – YOU GUYS….I may or may not have been so excited to meet Jay Crownover…whom I love so much that I didn’t gran any swag from her either! Thankfully I DID get selfies with her because what else does one do when you meet Jay…you selfie your life away to the Queen of Bad Boys. Y’all if you think Jay is wacky and crazy and fun on social media, real life Jay is HYSTERICAL. I wish I could be friends with her in real life because I feel like at any moment she could make your day crazy wild fun! I’ll never understand someone who is so fun and lively in person can write such dark and deadly romance. But she says it best…bad boys ARE better. Plus I got Cable early so :p!
HELENA HUNTING – FINALLY!!!!!!!! Helena is seriously such a badass writer, person, woman #alloftheabove!! The Pucked series upped the game (haha pun!) for me with romances once I found Alex and his teammates. Their outlandish, brazen, RIDICULOUS and sexy! If you haven’t grabbed everything this woman’s written then you need to!
Side Note: Helena…you GAVE me a book….girl….I will cherish Area 51 (pfffftttt that sounds so bad!!!!! #sorrynotsorry)
HH BONUS: I MET RANDY BALLS! Franggy….too cute. So sweet. And he wrote a kiss to me on the cover #SWOON (Sorry to my man…but he understands me and book-boyfriends are unshakeable)
PENNY REID – The Overlord herself! Penny’s style of writing has always stood out to me. There’s not a HUGE focus on the sexy-times (but they are still there my friends). As someone who really enjoys those times I thought that may put me off but NOPE! Her characters are intriguing and her stories are filled with so much imagination. Also, she’s hilarious and quirky and just my type of person. Plus she wins signature of the day with her note to me in MOI.
LIA RILEY – The last author I saw..I of course forgot to get a photo with as well! Lia writes some sweet sports romances that I found through one of my review sites and let me tell you that she won me over with her Hellions! I may be new to her as well but I can’t wait to read more!!!
Kristen Ashley Q&A Brunch
After a wonderful brunch from the hotel (seriously it was DE-LISH!) Jen and Kristen shared their history of romance novel love and dedicated reading from a young age onward. Here as some highlights from Jen’s questions and questions from readers attending:
Kristen’s toughest book to write was Golden Dynasty (part of her Fantasyland series) and she’s so proud of it. Not only the female strength of her character versus the hero’s world but creating a whole language in another world was another challenge for Kristen.
Kristen’s writing process is that she’s an “obsessive pants-er”. She’ll go by the seat of her pants to tell her story and she doesn’t take notes to prep. “The book plays like a movie in my head and its very very hard to shut it down and start tomorrow.” Fun fact: Her cats help her step away from the story and remember to eat.
She LOVES romance. She doesn’t like to watch a television show or read a book that doesn’t have a romantic element. Though she writes contemporary, sometimes danger just happens in her books.
Another Audible exclusive book is coming! The theme will be fantasy!
Chokers. Her heroines wear them for a reason and its a real life experience. Guys, like the Hot Bunch, just like ’em.
She’s been marathoning Altered Carbon (It is SO FRICKIN GOOD TOO!) and Grace and Frankie.
If you haven’t checked out her spread in Eloquii, the brand for curvy women, you should head over to their website and check out their spotlight.
What was the inspiration to write Heaven & Hell? Pat Tillman. His story truly affected her.
Have you ever been in a reading rut and what do you do to get out of it? *knocks on wood* She’s never been in one!
How do you do your world building and language creation if you fly by the seat of your pants when you write? She takes notes as she’s writing to remember things and keep track. There’s a separate notebooks “bible” for her fantasy worlds from her contemporary works.
Did you plan to tie in all of your books or did it just happen once and you get doing it? It’s because they are real to her. They carry on living in her head.
You’re a very social author as far as events; have you ever had any interesting or weird reader occurrences? No. She wants everyone to be their own person and she says “Be You” and “Let it all hang out”.
Your characters have a lot more dialogue versus description or plot explanation. Do they talk more to you than show you things? Get ready for there to be more of that. It’s just natural.
Comment from Jen : Kristen has a distinctive voice. SO TRUE!
What did you do in your research for the Honey Series? She had a boyfriend back in the day who was “adventurous”. She saw a whipping at a club like The Honey that transfixed her because it was so beautiful, unbelievably gentle, and intimate. She was fascinated that they had an audience but they completed disappeared for the master and his submissive.
She’s just written an MMF and that was fun to research!
Would you ever consider doing a crossover with anther author? I never say never anymore. Yeah I would; for sure.
How did you pick the small town in Nebraska (for her book Complicated) because that’s where I’m from!? This is gonna seem very weird…I looked up Targets in Nebraska. And found a place close enough where Greta could get to a Target!
Are any of your characters base don real life people? Yes. A lot. Tex from the Rock Chicks Series, she live din Ava’s row house, Jet’s mom is loosely based on her own mother, Bette and Uncle Marsh are her aunt and uncle, Tod and Stevie were he neighbors when she lived in Indy’s house in Denver.
Stay updated for next year! Will I see you?